How I Gather

Simple and Celebratory—How This Designer Hosts the Holidays in Spain

Happy holidays, from Barcelona.

By Isabelle Eyman

The holidays are arguably the most celebratory time of the year. Gifts are purchased, parties are thrown, and we cherish these precious moments in the company of loved ones. But when you’ve just moved halfway across the world from Houston to Barcelona, you’re likely tempted to take a step back. For Devon Liedtke, that couldn’t be more true.

“Less is more this year,” she says. But for the designer and creative, there’s endless beauty to be found in a minimalist approach. In her case, the saying rings true: what you focus on absolutely does grow. Her centerpiece is awe-inspiring, the tree is a natural wonder, and with warmth and welcome, Devon brings friends near and far into her apartment that already feels like home.

Naturally, we were overjoyed when Devon invited us (virtually) into her Barcelona home for an intimate gathering with her family, dear friends, and a few well-behaved pups. We spoke to Devon all about her pivot from the finance world to design, what it’s really like to pack up your life and move to Europe, and the traditions she’s keeping close to her heart—all while exploring this new adventure.

Sweater from COS.

On Making Pivots and Finding Professional Joy

Tell us about your career trajectory. You started off in finance—what brought you to the design world?

Ultimately, trusting in my heart rather than my head. I have always been a very aesthetic-driven person. I have always appreciated the beauty in things, the beauty in life. My five-year-old daughter said to me yesterday, “Mom, isn’t the brick just so beautiful on this building?” and I couldn’t help but laugh (definitely a moment of déjà vu).

I studied business in college and got my CPA not because I loved it, but because it was what one did to get a job. With time, trial and error, more self-awareness, and a husband that has endlessly encouraged me to find my “thing,” I got into design. I went to design school in Europe nearly a decade ago. And, closer to a decade later, I still feel lit up by the design world and I am still pivoting and honing “my thing.” 

I have always appreciated the beauty in things, the beauty in life.

How did your business come to be?

It started as a place for me to just share the things I love and my point of view, whether through my services, my stories, photos, and recipes on my blog, or the products I curate. From there, it has evolved as life does. The business has evolved and is evolving as we speak, and I am grateful for that. I am learning what I love to do and what I don’t. What lights me up and just as importantly, what dims that light. Moving to Barcelona has also made me pivot a lot. It has opened new doors and has closed others. 

Round Marble Bowl from Zara Home. Borosilicate Glass Jug with Lid from Zara Home.

Honoring the Creativity Inherent in Food

How did you learn to cook? 

With my family growing up. Some of my fondest memories are in the kitchen. No doubt, I’ve made my presence known by spilling everything in sight. 

What informs your approach to food?

A few words come to mind. Relaxed, inspired, playful. Relaxed and playful because I think of recipes as suggestions, which my rule-following husband literally can’t stand. A pinch of this and a squeeze of that. We just moved to Barcelona and the markets here are so inspiring. I absolutely love feeling inspired, trying local ingredients and learning along the way. 

Devon Liedtke Shares Her Entertaining Wisdom

You recently moved to Barcelona. How will celebrating the holidays look different for your family this year?

They will look simple! Less is more this year. We have a tree up and we just got a little tree for the kids and gave them full creative freedom. (Surely, you can see the flashing rainbow lights they picked from wherever you are.) Barcelona decorates for the holidays, so it has been fun to walk around and see the lights and it just feels so festive. As for new traditions, I am hoping to host a cookie exchange for my daughter’s new school friends and their parents to meet new friends and celebrate the holidays. 

Tell us about your new home. What’s your favorite part of the space?

We moved to Barcelona about three months ago [from Houston]. More on that story here!

The apartment felt like kismet. Favorite parts are all the century old Catalonian details, the carved ceilings and the encaustic floors. It is perfect for this time and place in our life. 

What does a great gathering look like for you?

Relaxed, creative, beautiful and feeling connected to one another. 

What are you serving at this gathering?

I hosted a few of my new friends in Barcelona for a Christmas party at my apartment. They are from all over the world, two of my closest friends are from Ireland and South Africa. We always talk about “home” for us, so I wanted the party to have a bit of home from Texas and Spain. So, naturally for a nod to my home in Texas, I made a margarita bar for cocktails. As for a taste of Spain, one of my favorite tapas here is tomato bread. I love its simplicity and how DIY it is.

In Spain, they give you some bread, whole tomatoes, salt and olive oil and you make it yourself at the table. So, for this party, I did my own spin. I toasted a baguette split in half in the toaster and cut it into pieces. In a serving bowl, I added garlic cloves and tomatoes on the vine. Flaky sea salt and high quality olive oil. The intention is for each person to build their own. All you do is grab a piece of grilled bread, rub with raw garlic clove to taste, rub with raw tomato to taste, drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt. 

What’s your must-have cooking tool and why? 

Microplane. Zest for this, nutmeg in that, cheese on the pasta… I churn out for my kiddos like the short-order cook they think I am. 

What are your favorite cookbooks?

Anything Ottolenghi. 

What are a few things we’ll always find in your refrigerator? 

All the condiments—capers, miso, dijon, tomato paste, curry paste, sriracha, and my husband’s not-so-secret mistress, Tabasco. 

What tip would you share with someone who wants to host a gathering on a budget?

Keep it simple and think outside of the box. 

Favorite conversation starter or question to get to know someone?

Definitely, “What’s your sign?” and followed by “What time were you born?” Those that get it, buyer beware, we are about to go deep

The perfect dinner party playlist includes:

A little of everything. Some of my favorites, some that everyone knows, some to start a convo, and some to groove to. I got a Spotify email today that my number one streamed song of 2022 was from my twin daughter’s favorite movie Tangled. This isn’t making the dinner playlist, at least not intentionally, but will be played seven times the next morning on repeat in the carpool line.

Your go-to centerpiece solution:

I always do different things for centerpieces. Sometimes, I love one large arrangement like this, or low and lush down the table or simple and sparse. I have loved plants and flowers since I can remember, so this is my very favorite part to think about. As a kid, I would ask my dad to take me to the flower shop on Saturdays. So, let the record show I have always been a dorky old soul, this is not a new revelation. 

But, when in doubt about what to do for the centerpiece, use a lot of stems of one type of flower in a vase with votives around it. Easy and sophisticated. 

What is your no-stress party rule to live by? 

Outsource. Make a few things and buy the rest. As a mom of three littles, I realized early on that I can’t do it all and I definitely can’t do it all well. 

Dream dinner guests?

Now that we are abroad, my answer is definitely my family and close friends from home in Texas. 

Fill in the blank:

“A perfect meal should leave you feeling full! It isn’t just about the food. It’s about the connection with people. Feeling full of life. 

“It’s not a dinner party without ”  laughing so hard it hurts.

“Every cook should know how to pivot.